Not just surviving, thriving

Junior Calie Schliep, left, and senior Coree Lipovsky go up for a block against Centura at the C2-7 sub-district title match Tuesday.

 Sandy Creek lives to play another game, winning in three sets against top-seeded Centura


By Jordyn Hulinsky

No. 2 seed Sandy Creek didnít just survive a game against No. 1 seed Centura Monday at the C2-7 sub-district title match on Tuesday evening; the Cougars thrived. 

On Halloween night, change was in the air as Sandy Creek, who came out strong with a 25-22 first-set win, spooked the Centurions in a game to avenge the final regular-season game, which came just days earlier. The teams met at Centura on Thursday, Oct. 26, where the Cougars lost in three: 25-13, 25-20 and 25-17, respectively. 

"This was one of the games I was nervous for," Head Coach Josey Nunnenkamp said. "It all came down to this night, and they showed up and they left it all out on the court."

Sandy Creek earned their spot in the title match after defeating No. 3 seeded Doniphan-Trumbull in five sets Monday evening. The Cougars took the first set 28-26, the second 25-20, lost the third and fourth, 25-18 and 25-15, respectively, before ultimately winning 15-10. 

"We led the girls into the subdistrict tournament with the mindset that it was a whole new season, we start over, and this is our time, our chance to shine," Nunnenkamp said. "The girls took that with full force and came out with a high and kept their momentum throughout the entire night (Tuesday) really gaining more and more when Centura had errors." 

In Tuesday's match, the game momentum was set when Sandy Creekís senior Kenzie Turman started the serving and the Cougars went up 3-0 before Centura was able to get on the board. Sandy Creek eventually won the game in three sets earning the 3-0 win. Cougars led 16-10 in the first set before Centura took the first timeout of the night; they were forced to take a second time out when match point hit 24-18 in the Cougars favor. 

That timeout worked as Sandy Creek then took a breather when the score reached 24-22, which also worked in the Cougars favor as they took the next point for the set at 25-22. 

Centura came out in the second set strong and earned a lead of 11-7 before Sandy Creek took a timeout to regroup. The Cougars responded and took the lead at 20-18, forcing Centura to take a timeout. Sandy Creek managed an identical second set win with a score of 25-22. 

A tight start to the third set saw Sandy Creek taking a timeout when Centura led 14-12. Once Sandy Creek flipped the switch and took the two-point lead, 18-16, Centura also hit the pause button to get situated. At 23-20, Centura was scared again and took a final time out of the set, which didn't help as the Centurions were only able to earn one more point in the set. Senior Kambria Chohon ended the match with a kill, securing the team's spot in the district finals this Saturday. The final set score was 25-21. 

Seniors again led the way for Sandy Creek's win, but the team have played in sub-districts without senior Jordan Woodbury due to a sprained knee. Woodbury will be out for four to six weeks, Nunnenkamp said. 

With her final point to take the match, Chohon earned 11 kills in the game, but senior Coree Lipovsky was the kill leader with 13 toward the team's 38. Turman handed out 34 of the team's 37 set assists. Junior Calie Schliep dished out two and junior Grace Messenger the other one. Sandy Creek earned a 35.2 kill percentage, which is better than the season average of 34.2. Centura sent down 38 of their own kills and marked a 36.9 kill percentage, but that is less than the season average of 42.4. 

The Cougars earned nine ace serves, with two from Messenger, Chohon, Schliep and sophomore Daelene Hinrichs. Turman earned the one other ace. The team served better than the season average of 9.2 aces, earning 12.2 against the Centurions, who were again held to less than their season average. 

Centura only served three aces for a 4.5 ace percentage, below the season average 7.9 ace percentage. 

Lipovsky also led the Cougars in blocks with eight, four alone and four assisted. Messenger followed, assisting on six and earning one solo block. Overall the team accounted for 11 blocks, averaging 9.1 per match this season. Centura blocked eight hits from the Cougars, more than the teamís average 6.5 per match. 

Hinrichs and Chohon earned double-digit digs in the match to lead the Cougars with 15 and 14, respectively. Sandy Creek earned 65 digs in all, which brings the season average up to 63.3 per match. The Centurions also improved their dig percentage, earning 68 digs against the Cougars, bringing the season average to 52.7 per match. 

The Cougars' season stays alive with the win against Centura and will need to win the district finals game Saturday to continue to the state tournament. Saturday will face the Cougars against the Archbishop Bergan Knights at Centennial High School at 7 p.m.

"We are excited for the game Saturday and are taking it easy today to give our bodies rest to prepare tomorrow and Friday for our district final game Saturday," Nunnenkamp said. "My expectations are none less than what we accomplished last night (Tuesday); we come out strong and get on the board early and stick with it we can accomplish our dreams of going to state!"

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